Pains & Accuracy 5 Barrett Golding
Wars, jails, Buddha and Brahma along the Trail.
Lewis and Clark: War
by Barrett Golding 11/30/2001
HOST: We've gotten into the spirit of Americana-appreciation stories since September 11. Stories such as Barrett Golding's bike ride along the Missouri River, where Lewis & Clark paddled and portaged 200 years ago. This wasn't just a trip driven by scenic landscapes. Some historians see a darker side to Lewis & Clark's expedition, citing their trip as the first step towards the wars that dismantled Native American life.
Farrell Adkins [sings with guitar]:
"Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the sky is not clouded all day..."
Barrett Golding: "Jo and I just pulled into Missouri's Arrow Rock Campground. That's Farrell Adkins, the campground host. We're bicycling from Saint Louis to North Dakota, the Lewis & Clark trail, along the Missouri River.
When you follow a major river like the Missouri, you're following civilization, the ebb and flow, war and peace."
Adkins: "'Home on the Range' one of my favorite songs. Beautiful evening here in Arrow Rock. This is famous for the Lewis & Clark trail came through here, Arrow Rock here. This whole area was Osage Indians. And the white man came and traded with them for their beautiful pelts. We were told the other night, 'Anything on four legs, and maybe some things on two legs,' the Indians traded to the fur traders. And then the fur traders gave them steel -- tomahawks, knives and the muskets.
And my grandmother was Cherokee, so I had kind of a fond admiration for the Indian.
And, I guess, there were several other tribes around here that wanted to cash in on this trading with the settlers. But the Osage fought off I - don't-know how many tribes. They were pretty tough. So then the white man, of course, he says, 'You know, we kinda like this land - we'd like for you to move off of it.' And so they were put on, set out. They went over to Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and continued trading over there."
Adkins[sings with guitar]:
"The red man was pressed from this part of the West,
He's likely no more to return
To the banks of Red River where seldom if ever
Their flickering campfires burn."
Golding: "Lewis and Clark were army captains on a military expedition to befriend Indian nations. They wintered with the Mandans. Shoshoni horses got them across the Rockies. Nez Perce food kept the expedition from starving. On the way back, the army had a good ol' time with the Nez Perce - they held horse races, foot races, target shooting contests.
Matt Nowak: So there's a really strong tie between the military and the Nez Perce.
Matt Nowak is natural resources manager for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the only active-duty army base on the Lewis & Clark Trail.
Matt Nowak: We're standing on Nez Perce Way, actually on Chief Joseph Loop.
The nation's first military prison is here, also one of the original National Cemeteries. And somewhere on the fort, along the Missouri, is another cemetery and prison.
Then in 1887, there was the Nez Perce War. I'm not going to go into the reasons for that. Really sad reasons, as far as I'm concerned. But the Nez Perce, they were five band leaders. The only two that survived the war were Joseph and Yellow Wolf. Because the children were starving and freezing to death up in Montana, Joseph agreed to surrender to General Miles. Originally, they were supposed to be taken back to their reservation in Idaho, but the Army changed its mind -- and instead brought them to Fort Leavenworth.
They arrived on train just right up here in the bluff area. Walked out across a road over here, across the bottom lands. And there was a horse race track out there. And they were incarcerated inside that horse race track.
And we also know, from the numbers that came in, there were 431 that came in on the train. And there was about 21 that didn't leave. And somewhere out there, probably in the vicinity of the race track, is where they were buried.
Chief Joseph was a - the media really picked up on him because he was a very eloquent speaker. They were a very proud people. And they had a very good military history. So there were a lot of visitors that came from Kansas City and Leavenworth to see the Nez Perce. So many, in fact, that the army had to set up visiting hours for the people to come visit the Nez Perce, in order to protect the Nez Perce from being bothered 24/7.
It must have been quite a hullabaloo going at that time. Leavenworth had about 50,000 people. It was a far larger city than it is today. In fact, it was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. This was the jumping off place for the West.
Golding: The Lewis & Clark Trail is well marked by Lewis & Clark highway signs and historical markers. And flanked by the Lewis & Clark Inn, Lewis & Clark Insurance, Lewis & Clark Estates. By the time we get to Omaha, we're about sick of the two captains, and happy to be amongst folk who've never heard of 'em."
Shedhi: "I'm Shedhi from Madras, India. I came here to see my children. They are working here. You are from which place?"
Golding: "I'm from Montana, which is way north of here. Montana."
Shedhi: "Montana. What are you doing?"
Golding:"I am following the Missouri River, a trail called the Lewis & Clark Trail. Lewis and Clark were two explorers who came through in the 1800s."
Golding: "Never heard of them?"
Shedhi: "Explorer, I know."
Golding: "In India, did you have some famous explorers? Who are they?"
Shedhi: "Not explorers. What is it called - 'saints.' Saints. They wrote about the Hindu religion."
Golding: "Did they travel, these people?"
Shedhi: "Yeah, they travel, long."
Golding: "Where would they go? What would they do?"
Shedhi: "They go to forest, and you heard about Buddha?"
Golding: "Yes, I have."
Shedhi: "Siddhartha. He was a big king's son. But he renounced everything, went to big forest and meditated, and got enlightened. And he start Buddhism. Not to hurt anybody, not to offend anybody. And people are like brothers and sisters."
Golding: "Do you practice Buddhism?"
Shedhi: "No, we are Hindus. We have got our own temples. We worship Lord Krishna, Rama, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma."
Golding: "Do the Hindus and the Buddhists get along?"
Shedhi: "Get along, no problem. No harm at all. They are just like brothers and sisters. No quarrel, nothing."
Golding: It's early morning in a downtown Omaha park. The homeless are starting their day. I'm filled with tales of brotherhood, and decide to talk to a guy singing as he picks cans out of the garbage.
Golding: Excuse me, mind if I ask you what you're doing?"
Can Man:"What does it look like I'm doing? You either shut the son-of-a-bitch off, or I'm gonna stick it up your-"
Golding: He doesn't want to talk. But I meet Auguster, a mechanic, who does.
Auguster: "The name of the park is 'Heartland of America Park.' And this is where I come on my day off work."
Golding: "I'll tell you what we're doing. Me and a buddy are traveling the Lewis & Clark Trail, the Missouri River."
Auguster: "Yeah, Missouri River."
Golding: "And then we just talk to people along the way."
Auguster: "Well, that makes sense. Interviewing people, getting their general ideas about different states where you never been before, and what's going on, what the nightlife's like -- and stuff like that. Yeah, you need to know these things. (Laughs). You think I'm comical don't you. (Laughs)"
Golding: "You're entertaining."
Golding: "So you ever hear of Lewis and Clark, in school or anything?"
Auguster: "Lewis and Clark? I never been to Lewis & Clark. Yeah, Lewis & Clark is a junior high school here in Omaha."
Golding: "They were explorers, you know."
Auguster: "Oh, no, I had never heard of them. Not that Lewis & Clark, I never heard of."
Golding: "Well, thanks."
Auguster: "Well, it was nice talking to you."
Golding: "See ya."
Auguster: "I held a pretty good conversation." [laughs]
Golding: "You sure did."
Golding: Joe and I have taken to telling people that we're following, not the Lewis & Clark trail but, the Missouri River. It seems nobler somehow. I mean, Lewis and Clark took a long walk. So what? Lots of people do. The guy driving our hotel's shuttle walked 2,000 miles.
Sultan: "Back to 1985, we took a train to Kashmir. From Kashmir we walked, ah, we rent horses. We went to Katmandu, Nepal, Tibet. All these places are Himalayas mountains. Those places, they don't belong to any countries. They are between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tibet, China and India.
Villages, they don't have any currency because they are independent. So you have to give them something - they give you something to eat. The nature was - the most beautiful nature I ever saw was Himalayas mountains."
Golding: "So there's not like a hotel?"
Sultan: "No, it was all mountain. Sleep in the mountain, eat, we caught fish. You survive -- it's just nature, whatever she provide for you.
At that time, was easy. Today, it is not possible. Because the situation between Pakistan, and India and Kashmir is fight, at war. It was just starting that time, 1985. So the tourist decide to not go because all the mountains was covered by military.
And in my country is still war going on. And when I decide to left my country, Russia invaded the country. And if you are working in the government, you have a choice to work with the Communist Party, or go to that Freedom Fighter.
My choice was not stay with either side because Freedom Fighter, I know them, and they are not well educated. And I see myself in danger, and decide to leave the country. I went to India. Originally I'm from Afghanistan."
Golding: How quaint to think of a time when Afghanistan doesn't mean, 'Trade Towers, terrorists.' About as quaint as, say, a Nez Perce thinking about a country before Lewis & Clark. In his book 'Blood Orchid,' Charles Bowden writes: 'Lewis and Clark's journey marks one of the few happy moments in this place we call "the West." After them, it will be all downhill, a spiral of killing and looting, and displacement and disease.'
Lewis & Clark spent the spring of 1806 camped with the Nez Perce engaged in all kinds of socialities, sport and sex. Sixty years later, when the army captured the Nez Perce, one sandy-haired, blue-eyed prisoner told his captors he was Captain Clark's son.
We shape our civilization by interacting with new people -- also, by killing them. The Missouri River has seen plenty of both.
Heading north towards the Dakotas, this is Barrett Golding, for Savvy Traveler.